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  • BEAR: A snow leopard.

  • He hasn't eaten in days.

  • This may be his last chance.

  • (theme music plays).

  • I'm two miles above sea level here,

  • and it is brutal.

  • Cold, desolate, hard to breathe.

  • But, for some, this is home.

  • Mountains are one of the most hostile environments

  • on our planet.

  • Now, with the rise in global temperatures,

  • life is even tougher.

  • The relentless search for food.

  • Intense competition.

  • Unpredictable weather.

  • Mountain animals are pushed to the edge of existence.

  • The Arctic Circle.

  • Nowhere is the planet warming faster.

  • Spring has arrived here early.

  • And that's bad news for the barnacle geese

  • that breed in these mountains.

  • Many nests have failed...

  • but not this one.

  • Three chicks.

  • They're lucky to have made it.

  • Forced by the early spring,

  • the parents rush to their migration.

  • They arrived exhausted.

  • The female sat on the eggs for 25 days.

  • She's lost 30% of her body weight.

  • But for this family,

  • the greatest challenge is still to come.

  • The parents chose to nest on this 400 foot pinnacle.

  • It's the only way to evade predators.

  • Just one problem...

  • the grass they eat is a mile away,

  • by the river.

  • And barnacle geese can't feed their young in the nest.

  • If the chicks don't feed within 36 hours,

  • they'll starve.

  • And these chicks won't be able to fly for another month.

  • The parents are living proof there is a solution.

  • Just not an easy one.

  • Dad leads the way.

  • But the chicks are instinctively bonded to mum.

  • Where she goes they follow.

  • (peeping).

  • Incredibly, it survived.

  • But it's stunned.

  • And now dangerously exposed.

  • (honking, cawing).

  • One chick gone.

  • Now hope rests with the other two.

  • The back of the spire is a shorter drop.

  • But it's much harder to avoid the rocks.

  • For this chick, there will be no escape.

  • The third and last surviving chick.

  • ♪ ♪

  • The snow cushions the impact, but offers no grip.

  • (honking).

  • Only around 50% of chicks hatched on these cliffs

  • make it through the first month.

  • With the seasons increasingly unpredictable,

  • fewer chicks will survive.

  • But this chick, at least, has defied the odds.

  • A changing climate is affecting life in mountains

  • across the world.

  • Late winter.

  • The average temperature here is rising a degree every decade.

  • Bad news for a snow leopard.

  • Thick fur enables him to withstand temperatures

  • of -20 Fahrenheit.

  • But today, it's 66.

  • To find enough food, he must patrol a territory

  • of 80 square miles.

  • Dry barren slopes don't support much prey.

  • It can be more than a week between meals.

  • He must make a kill,

  • or starve.

  • BEAR: 16,000 feet up in the Himalayas,

  • a desperately hungry snow leopard.

  • His best opportunity in days is within sight.

  • Blue sheep.

  • In this heat, he can't run far.

  • He needs to close the gap.

  • His camouflage helps.

  • But with so little cover, it's hard to get close enough.

  • He ran too early.

  • And it's too hot to give chase.

  • Like all who live here,

  • his fortunes are linked to the mountain climate.

  • And even small changes can have dramatic consequences.

  • Here in Africa, rising temperatures

  • are forcing mountain life ever higher.

  • An army of Gelada monkeys is gathering.

  • They're all after one thing.

  • But to find it, they must climb higher and higher.

  • Their numbers grow to 1200 strong.

  • One of the largest gatherings of monkeys on the planet.

  • At 10,000 feet, this is what they're after.

  • Grass.

  • It's almost all they eat.

  • But so many monkeys in such a small area means trouble.

  • Especially for this old male.

  • He needs a lot of energy to defend his family.

  • Ten females and 12 youngsters.

  • But you don't get much from grass.

  • He has to spend ten hours a day feeding.

  • And today he's gonna need all the energy he can get.

  • Bachelor males.

  • Outcasts.

  • Forced to the edge of society.

  • Any one of them would be happy to take down the old male and

  • become the new family leader.

  • To hold onto power, the old male must prove his strength,

  • both to the bachelors and his females.

  • He challenges them to chase him.

  • (barking, yelling).

  • But no one dares to attack.

  • His show of force has worked.

  • For now.

  • The old male has little time to refuel

  • before the herd moves on.

  • The bachelors are back.

  • (barking, yelling).

  • At this high altitude,

  • each confrontation takes more energy.

  • A relentless cycle of moving, feeding and fighting.

  • Moving, feeding, fighting.

  • By late afternoon, the old male is exhausted.

  • The strongest bachelor, 45 pounds of muscle,

  • with energy to burn.

  • He's the most serious challenger yet,

  • and the old male knows it.

  • BEAR: Two male Gelada monkeys fight for supremacy.

  • A dominant male and a younger bachelor.

  • One against one the bachelor is stronger.

  • The old male won't last much longer.

  • At least not alone.

  • His females are loyal.

  • They won't give up on their protector yet.

  • This united force is overwhelming.

  • The old male is victorious.

  • But it's tough at the top.

  • As the climate warms and the grass they depend on retreats higher,

  • their battle for survival will only intensify.

  • In the heat of mid-summer, mountain goats seek out

  • cooler temperatures on the high ridges.

  • This female is a natural mountaineer.

  • She can easily access the best grazing,

  • even with a kid in tow.

  • But there's one thing they both need that's

  • far harder to reach.

  • Today, they must leave the ridge and descend

  • into the heat of the valley.

  • For the little one, this is a dangerous journey.

  • With the mercury hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit,

  • this is the hottest summer on record.

  • After a winter of heavy snow,

  • this means more meltwater than ever.

  • Mum's made this journey before,

  • but some rivers are at their highest level in 100 years.

  • ♪ ♪

  • Their goal is in sight.

  • Just one more river to cross.

  • But it's the deepest and widest yet.

  • The current is too strong for little legs.

  • And this is what they've risked their lives for.

  • A salt lick.

  • These goats crave sodium, an essential mineral lacking

  • in their mountain diet.

  • Summer in the mountains is short.

  • Harder times are coming.

  • Temperatures plummet.

  • Days shorten.

  • Winter is here.

  • But the hunt for food must continue.

  • Heavy snow on higher ridges has forced these ibex

  • down into the valley.

  • A cold winter can be a blessing for

  • a hungry snow leopard.

  • He's less likely to overheat.

  • But against the white, he's visible for miles.

  • He must rely on stealth.

  • Not easy in such deep snow.

  • ♪ ♪

  • The distance was too great.

  • The ibex too fast.

  • Now all the animals in the valley know he's here.

  • And he's burnt precious energy.

  • These are desperate times.

  • If he's to see winter through,

  • he may have to take bigger risks.

  • Throughout the mountains of the Northern Hemisphere,

  • winter's grip is tightening.

  • Animals must make the most of any last opportunity before

  • conditions drive them to take shelter.

  • Far above, planetary forces are on a collision course.

  • A river of air, the jet stream,

  • flows around the North Pole.

  • At its center, sits a mass of cold Arctic air.

  • But now a warming upper atmosphere is slowing the jet stream.

  • And the cold air can escape.

  • By the time it hits The Rockies,

  • it's grown into a mega storm.

  • Freezing everything in its path.

  • BEAR: In the depths of winter, extreme storms rage across

  • Canada and the USA.

  • Freezing temperatures,

  • wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

  • Now, even the toughest animals are at their limit of survival.

  • (wind whistling).

  • The storms may have passed, but there is hidden danger

  • in this landscape.

  • Winter storms have buried this area of British Columbia

  • under nearly 40 feet of snow.

  • But if temperatures rise above freezing,

  • it can have lethal consequences.

  • On the high ridges, wind driven snow has created

  • huge overhangs, some 25 feet thick.

  • The longer the temperatures stay above freezing,

  • the more the snow pack weakens.

  • (crashing).

  • Soon, tens of thousands of tons of snow are traveling

  • up to 80 miles an hour.

  • As weather patterns change, avalanches across the world

  • are growing bigger.

  • The more erratic and severe mountain winters become,

  • the more victims they'll claim.

  • But some are still succeeding in this harsh world.

  • Golden eagles live in almost every mountain range in the

  • Northern Hemisphere.

  • They endure the alpine winter by using the brutal conditions

  • to their advantage.

  • Like all golden eagles, this female has a special sensory

  • organ that detects change in air pressure,

  • allowing her to locate air currents rising off ridges.

  • With her seven foot wingspan, she can climb to over 11,000 feet.

  • Then, to get to the next peak, she folds her wings and dives.

  • With a top speed of 150 miles per hour,

  • she's one of the fastest animals on the planet.

  • It looks effortless, and it needs to be.

  • A golden eagle may cover 100 miles a day scouring

  • the slopes for any opportunity.

  • A flock of ravens is a good sign.

  • (cawing).

  • During winter, golden eagles are forced to scavenge

  • 90% of their food.

  • If finding food is hard, keeping it is even harder.

  • A carcass like this attracts a lot of attention.

  • This male is powerful.

  • And eagles don't share.

  • Another brutal storm.

  • This could be the last chance to feed for days.

  • Starvation is a serious threat.

  • Only a quarter of young eagles will survive to reach maturity.

  • Will it be him or her?

  • Attacking from the air gives her the advantage.

  • But her victory is short lived.

  • Now both eagles may be fighting for their lives.

  • BEAR: In the peaks of Norway, two golden eagles are fighting

  • for a chance to feed.

  • Both are desperate.